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Consumer Rights Act – will you exercise your new rights?

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There’s less than a week to go until the biggest shake-up of consumer rights law in a generation. But how much will you benefit from the new Consumer Rights Act?

Are you up to speed with your new rights? The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 becomes law on Thursday 1 October 2015 and brings with it a raft of new rights for consumers.

This is a consolidating Act. Which, for those not in the know, means it brings together and replaces three big pieces of consumer legislation:

  • Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
  • Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

So what exactly will this mean to the average punter? Let’s take a look at some of the new rights you can look forward to…

30 days to reject

The new Act gives some much-needed clarity on how long you have to return a faulty product hassle free for a full refund. The good news for shoppers is that you’ll have 30 days to make the return for a full refund.

Is that long enough?

Well, it’s an improvement on the soon-to-be-replaced Sale of Goods Act, which offers no specific timeframe – only a ‘reasonable time’, which depends on the circumstances but in practice is usually around three to four weeks.

You can still return a faulty product after the initial 30 days, but the retailer has an opportunity to repair or replace it before you can demand a refund.

Your new digital rights

The new legislation also sets out – for the very first time – bespoke rights for when you purchase digital content. It covers pretty much any digital content you pay for and download or stream – including apps, music, movies, games or eBooks.

There isn’t a 30-day grace period for refunds as with physical products. Instead, if there’s something wrong with your new digital content you’ll have the right to a repair or replacement in the first instance.

And if that repair or replacement doesn’t fix the problem, you can ask for a price reduction which can be up to 100% of the cost.

The retailer (not the developer) will be responsible for compensating you. So if the app you downloaded on Google’s Play Store is broken, your rights for a repair or replacement will lie with Google. The retailer will also be liable if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the dodgy digital content you’ve downloaded.

It’s not yet clear how this will work in practice, but it could mean that you will be protected by the Consumer Rights Act if an update to a digital device – like an iOS update on iPhone – causes your device to cease to function.

No more unfair contracts?

The Consumer Rights Act also makes make it easier for consumers tochallenge hidden fees and charges. Now the key terms of a contract, including price, may be assessed for fairness unless they are both prominent and transparent. This is an improvement because previously such terms were exempt from a fairness test if they were written in plain language. If a term is unfair then a company won’t be able to enforce it.

There’s a lot more to the new Consumer Rights Act, which you can read all about here. Which of the new rights are you most looking forward to exercising? Do you think the new Act goes far enough or would you like to see other rights and protection included?

Comments
Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

Is it legal (it shouldn’t be legal) for a company that sells goods in a given country (say the UK) over the internet not to supply a returns address in that same country? I’ve just come up against a company that asks you to post any returns to a centre in Poland at your own expense, which in this particular case will cost more than the value of the item I would like to return. Can that be banned? They do allow you to return items to a store but they don’t have a widespread presence in the UK and the nearest store to me is 200 miles away. Nearer than Poland I suppose!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

This just shows how consumers have to check the origin of the things they buy on-line and consider their position in the event that they are not what they wanted. The internet has given us easy access to worldwide sourcing but there are considerable additional risks if thing go wrong.

Without knowing more about the reason for the return it is not possible to give advice but if you can return the goods to a retailer why not contact one and see if they will accept a postal return? Processing a refund or replacement could be difficult, however, if the retailer was not involved in the original sale of the goods to you.

If goods are faulty, not as described, or not fit for purpose, and replacement is required, return would be free in the UK but not necessarily to other countries.

Unfortunately the EU’s concept of the “free movement of goods and services” does not apply to postal charges!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The Consumer Rights Act tells the vendor, if the customer simply changes their mind after receiving goods : “You do not have to pay the cost of returning the goods to you, provided you told the consumer before the contract was made that they would be liable for such costs.”

If however the goods do not meet the contract – faulty, not as described etc., then the DRA says, again to the vendor:
“If a consumer rejects goods, you are responsible for all reasonable costs of returning the goods to you unless the goods are being returned to the place that the consumer received them (for example, returning them to the shop in which they were bought). If the costs incurred by the consumer are more than a reasonable amount, you are still responsible for paying the reasonable portion of those costs.”

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Surely that guidance can only apply to UK vendors, Malcolm?

Even if the CRA is in line with, or derives from, an EU Directive [and I am not sure that it does] it would not cover trading in other states within the EU. Such an obligation would be an onerous restriction on free trade.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Quite right John, the CRA applies to UK law. However G Lugaro implied they had stores in the UK and I would expect that law should cover them. I’m not clear whether the goods were simply not required any more or were faulty.

Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

Perhaps I did not explain the situation clearly. I’m talking about a Spanish-based multinational (Zara). They have shops in this country (though nowhere near me). I don’t expect them to provide free returns when the goods are not faulty, though many other companies do. But I do expect them to provide a returns address in this country. Poland is the last place I would have expected to have to post things to in the case of them being unsuitable. It means that instead of it costing me £2 or £3 to return the item, it will cost about £12-, which is almost as much as thh item cost!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The Zara website gives information on returns. You have 14 days from receipt to change your mind. They say:
Do I have to pay anything to return my items?
Returns at Zara.com are always free of charge, using our return methods.
How do I return an item?
In store: The easiest way to return an item is by taking it to one of our Zara stores, as long as the store is in the same country in which the purchase was made.
Home collection/Drop off: If you prefer, you can request a home pick-up service or a drop off return. After verifying all the details, we will send you an email to arrange the return. Please log in and follow the steps listed in my account > returns. If you are not registered at Zara.com, please use the link sent to you with your order confirmation e-mail.

Items must be in their original condition and you will be required to present the corresponding receipt. Fragrances must be returned in the original sealed and unopened packaging. Generally, you can only return items that have been sealed for hygiene reasons (e.g. underwear, swimwear or earrings) if the seal or hygiene label is still in place.

Please note that it is always necessary to have received the merchandise prior to requesting a refund.”

Does this not apply to your purchase?

Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

Apparently not. The only paperwork that came with the parcel had a returns address in Poland. So I called their helpline to verify and they explained that they did not collect items. I don’t know what a “drop off return” entails but that wasn’t mentioned. He said the only two options were to return to a store (so drive to London or Manchester from deepest Somerset) or post at my own expense to Poland.
I’ve just checked – I should have specified that it is in fact the Zara Home store – and apparently the conditions are different to the main Zara that sells clothes, although they are part of the same company. I didn’t realise this. It says:

RETURN IN ZARA HOME STORES:
You can return items at any of our Zara Home shops in the country in which you placed the order. Remember to bring the receipt with you to the shop.

You can search for our shops here.

RETURNS THROUGH THE RETURN CENTRE:
Fill in the receipt: check the box of the item that you want to return and indicate the number of items you wish to return in the “quantity” column.

Pack the products along with the receipt.

Send your return to our return centre, paying for any shipping costs yourself.

The address is: ZARA HOME, ARVATO, Panattoni Park V, Ul. Skladowa 3, 62-064 Plewiska (Poland).

DEADLINE:
You will have a maximum of 30 days after receiving the order to make any returns.

GIFTS:
Remember that for gifts, the credit for the return will be made to the same card that paid for the order.

DEFECTIVE PRODUCTS:
Call 080 00 260 091 or send an e-mail to info@zarahome.com.

CDs and Fragrances: must be returned in the original sealed packaging.

I obviously should have checked this but it’s so ludicrous that it never crossed my mind.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Presumably a defective item will be dealt with at no cost. Changing your mind does incur a delivery charge – why this is a different policy from Zara which is also owned by Inditex in Spain seems curious. What does not seem fair is the extra cost many will incur having to return an item to Poland. For example, an untracked large letter (package) weighing up to 250g costs £1.20 to a UK address, but £3.70 to Poland. Why it cannot be returned, by post, to a UK store beats me. Perhaps Which? could advise.

Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

Plus, the fact that it sells homeware might make it a foregone conclusion that not many of their products will fit a large letter-sized package!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Just an example. Parcelforce gives prices to Poland. You seemed to suggest the item was low value so might not be particularly large. Nevertheless it seems a rather unfair policy – except it is stated on their website, so visible presumably to those placing orders.

Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

I would say that the information is “available” rather than “visible”. Unless you check all the small print in the more obscure sections of the website, which we probably all should but realistically most people don’t, at no point in the purchasing process do they draw attention to the fact that returns are at your own expense to an overseas address. I certainly didn’t because I was prepared to pay for any returns if necessary. At no point did it cross my mind that I would be expected to pay for international shipping!

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

GLugaro your nearest store from “deepest Somerset ” is= Zara Bond Street , Stokes Croft , Bristol — 0117-945-1800. I also find it unusual that Poland is the returns country considering this is a Spanish company with –68 branches in the UK.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Unfortunately the Bristol shop is not a Zara Home store. There appear to be eleven Zara Home stores in or around London and a few elsewhere. I do not understand why it is not possible to return an item by mail or carrier to a UK Zara Home store. Depending on the item, using a carrier would be much less expensive than driving to London and back. I don’t think what Zara/Zara Home are doing is unlawful but it is certainly not helpful – and how is the average shopper to know that the two retailers, though connected and both having Zara in their titles, operate completely differently?

As I said previously, this just shows how consumers have to check the origin of the things they buy on-line and consider their position in the event that they are not what they wanted. Getting all relevant information is essential.

Profile photo of GLugaro
Member

As John Ward has pointed out, although it is technically the same company, Zara Home purchases cannot be returned to an ordinary Zara shop. I didn’t read the fine print, which I suppose I should have, but as I say, I was perfectly happy to pay the return shipping. I just never expected it to be overseas. As for it not being illegal, I think it should be. If you operate in a given country, sell online and deliver AS THOUGH IT WERE A LOCAL SET UP, you should be required to provide a returns address in that country or else display a conspicuous warning, much like the one all websites are now required to display about cookies etc. It’s not that hard. Isn’t that something that consumer protection legislation should consider? I find their current practice dishonest. And if their feeds on social media are anything to go by, I’m not the only one! This particular complaint keeps cropping up, in addition to many other customer service complaints.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I agree with you, GLugaro. The Zara Home UK policy is an attempt to deny consumers their rights under the distance selling regulations to return goods that are unsuitable [albeit contractualy compliant] by making it prohibitively expensive and logistically inconvenient by limiting the choice of carrier.

On-line retailers are feeling the pressure of the CRA as consumers exercise their rights to return goods they don’t want. In order to capture trade they have offered free carriage [as Zara the fashiion store do] and find it hard under competition to retreat from that. The worry is that other firms will follow a similar policy of off-shoring their returns facility. I feel that should be outlawed, or at least made the subject of a bold declaration on any website and especially on the checkout page. I would hope this bad policy gets well publicised and I think Which? should call the company out for its unfair treatment of customers.

Member
lindsay hobson says:
14 January 2017

Is it legal for a company to sell an item knowing it has a known fault ( a gas hob that the material it is made from will discolour over time from the burners ) without informing the consumer at point of sale, the company say it is in the instruction manual but you do not receive that until after you have made your purchase, surely if you are selling an item to be used at heat and it can’t withstand that heat it is not fit for purpose ?? would love some advice on this xx

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Lindsay-In a save money exercise the surface coating on many domestic appliances has been downgraded from high quality STOVE enameled surface covering to spray on stuff that actually has instructions to say you cant use corrosive materials to clean them .As you have found they discolour over time due to heat and your right its in the instruction manuals of many products . In days gone by old Ford cars built in the UK rusted quickly and were called “rust buckets ” due to the thin metal and poor coatings , things have changed now but it seems domestic products are taking a leaf out of the old cars books . The problem now is the disclaimer that any sort of blemishes occurring are not covered by guarantee and many people like yourself have tried claiming the companies but they deny liability. MY old STOVE enameled cooker doesn’t blemish because its got a thick coating on it , chips maybe but no blemishes and I have used all sorts of corrosive cleaning material on it.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Have a look at your guarantee or warranty, Lindsay. They generally exclude cosmetic issues, so unless the deterioration of a component also causes a functional problem or a safety issue, I don’t think you are covered. It is common for white plastics to become beige or worse within a few years, encouraging owners to replace products that are still working. It would be interesting to know which make and model of hob you are referring to and what has discoloured.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

What you get now Wavechange is spray on enamel , you can actually buy the stuff to “rejuvenate ” your cooker or stove or fire surround . Some suppliers sell two ranges one with spray on enamel and one with STOVE enamel -guess which is the dearer ? This is a big issue on many websites. My cooker is at least 15 years old NO blemishes on the enamel.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I had not realised that painted enamel could discolour, though I’m aware of other problems. Stove enamel can chip but otherwise it is extremely durable.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

It would depend whether the discolouration was cosmetic, or whether it indicated degradation in material that would lead to a safety problem. The Sale of Goods Act and Consumer Rights Act do not regard cosmetic changes as constituting lack of durability (one of the criteria that can be the cause of a legal remedy).

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The finish is often heat cured powder paint – polyester, epoxy or a blend. There are more expensive powders with higher heat resistance but polyester is pretty good. Not a spray on paint found in an aerosol (sold to give a cheap repair). White finishes will discolour – cream to beige usually – if subjected regularly to a higher temperature than they are designed for.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

In other words malcolm -they are “not up to the job ” even the “better stuff ” as backed up by 100,s of complaints on UK websites, and don’t use bleach or corrosive material .

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

Uhm, guys…

You don’t know nothing. 😉

You don’t know what hob it is. How old it is. What the damage is. What the material is, could be enamel, could be stainless, could be glass. What use it’s subjected to. What it’s been cleaned with.

So, ehm, maybe just a thought here… get all the facts or at least some of them before going off on a rant.

K.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Rants ? – facts more like from 100,s of consumers in the UK complaining of exactly this subject but you obviously think they are all wrong and its a CON .Theory/ “Fake News ” /etc ? no I will stick with the facts before me -saving money by replacing GENUINE top quality stove enameled cookers with with spray on enamel . Lets get this straight I have worked on -repaired BOTH stove enameling conveyor belts , with the appropriate spraying machinery AND the ovens that they went into , watched -repaired it- and seen first hand ALL the factory actions relating to stove enameling – the REAL stove enameling not the modern artificial thin , easily affected by chemicals etc pseudo “enameling “.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

The question asked “was it legal” is what I tried to answer with reference to SoGA and CRA. Powder coating is not spray on enamel, it is heat cured (cross linked) thermosetting material usual based on epoxy and polyester. A medium temperature resistant polyester can handle working temperatures of 300C. It also has good chemical resistance. Powder paint, and similar, are widely used on domestic appliances and similar. Stove enamel was basically a glass coating, brittle – hence it chipped – but very resistant to heat, abrasion and chemicals.

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

Without *FACTS* you can say all that about this case?

Nobody even knows if it is enamelled, which was the point, it is all too possible you are meandering way off base as that is an unknown.

Will your comments regarding enamelling be relevant then if it is a stainless hob top?

K.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Kenneth the majority aint complaining of SS tops but this modern pseudo enamel – and by the 100,s.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Could you give a source for all these complaints, duncan? What do you mean by “pseudo enamel”?

Member
Richard Chapman says:
14 January 2017

How does this apply to items sold on Ebay? I bought a mobile phone on Ebay from what I use to call a pawn broker, the phone has developed a fault after 5 months, given that it comes with a manufacturer 2 year warranty and it had over 15 months warranty left on it I returned it to the manufacturer who have told me the warranty has been voided as it has been illegally repaired. The re-seller claims he is not liable, I did buy it with Paypal and via a credit card but I’m not sure who if anybody is liable for this? Any help or suggestions most welcome.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I suggest you have a look at the advice provided by Which? http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/second-hand-goods

My understanding is that manufacturers’ guarantees for consumer goods are not usually transferrable, though it is common for double glazing, for example, to have a transferrable guarantee. It’s the first thing to check.

Presumably the phone was working at the time of purchase otherwise you would have rights against the seller.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

As I understand the Consumer Rights Act, you have the same rights with secondhand goods as with new – if bought from a trader as opposed to a private transaction. If a fault develops within the first 6 months then you have the option of a repair or replacement, and if the repair does not work or either is not possible, a full refund. The manufacturer is correct I believe to reject it as a warranty claim if repaired “illegaly” but that is the vendors responsibility and strengthens your own case.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

If the phone was purchased using a credit card, it is possible to claim against the card company: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act

Member
Adam Reffell says:
14 January 2017

I bought a laptop from a retailer 1 year and 1 month ago (Warranty was valid for 1 year)it has developed a fault with the hard drive so wont even start up now. Spoke to someone in store who told me it is out of the warranty so I would need to pay to have it repaired. Is this true or is there any way I can argue to get them to repair or replace it as it shouldn’t go faulty this quickly? What would I need to say or do to get a repair or replacement?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

With computers it is worth checking to make sure there is not a simple problem before pursuing your rights against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act. There is plenty of advice online. For example, does the computer start up in Safe Mode?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

if you have not damaged the computer the Consumer Rights Act has a clause that requires a product to be “durable” = last what a normal person would regard as a reasonable time, given sensible factors such as the price paid. You could remind the retailer of this requirement and if they are difficult threaten them with a small claims court action (or whatever it is now called).

Profile photo of DerekP
Member

Adam / all,

The linked Which? article says:

“After the first six months the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery.
In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.
You have six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and five years in Scotland. ”

So it may be theoretically possible to prove a laptop hard drive ought to last for more than 13 months and argue that one that didn’t must have been defective from the start.

It might not be easy however – because not all hard drives last forever. The original one in my current work desktop only lasted about two years, otherwise they normally do much better than than – unless dropped.

Otherwise, it should not cost a small fortune to get a new drive fitted to a laptop. For those of us with DIY skills, the only cost would be the disk drive itself.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

If the SSD is faulty you aren’t going to get any system start up , if you pull the SSD and the rest works you should get an invite to install a system. That would be possible if you install another SSD with a system installed or inputted to the drive. One year and drive failure isnt your fault its the hardware thats faulty. I could direct you to a laptop flow chart if you are technically competent of tracing the fault yourself for this type of fault , I take it the power supply is okay and you have removed every peripheral piece of hardware ? have you dropped it ?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Adam I mentioned -have you dropped it ? for a reason the SSD,s are all plug-in and it might be a case of the drive coming loose , that isn’t a great cost to repair . For the record if you are taking malcolm,s advice then I can assure you having some technical knowledge in this area a normal SSD should not only last for years but be guaranteed for at least 5 years ,if you are sure that is the fault then you have a “cast-iron” case IF it hasn’t been damaged.

Member
Mick says:
15 January 2017

I bought a brand new static caravan from Haven in June 2016 and on handover I noticed that the kitchen worktop upstands had small holes which were irregular and looked like they had been fitted incorrectly. I raised this along with other things on the snag list. Haven have now inspected the problem with Pemberton on a number of occasions but have stated this is normal as that is how they are fitted. They have attempted to fill the holes with wax but I have rejected this as it looks terrible. After many emails both Haven and Pemberton are refusing to repair/replace the upstands. Pembertons argument is that is how they are fitted but I cannot accept that a £95,000 caravan has such poor quality and if this was a new kitchen at home you wouldn’t accept it? I have threatened rejection under the consumer rights act 2015 but they are still doing nothing. I have also asked for compensation so I can carry out the repairs myself but to no avail. Any advise is welcomed.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

You could contact Citizens Advice and they are likely to pass the case to Trading Standards. When I approached TS they said I had a strong case but said they would not intervene unless they had reports of similar problems. Mentioning that I had contacted TS resulted in a prompt refund from the company that had taken my money but failed to repair my TV after nine months. It might be worth subscribing to Which? Legal and following their advice. You could contact the ombudsman or use the small claims court but in your circumstance I would be tempted to sort out the problem myself. It depends how much time you can devote to the case. Best of luck.

Member

I booked a hotel wedding venue and paid a £1500 deposit, the wedding had to be cancelled, but the hotel easily managed to resell the date to another couple (It was a popular summer Bank Holiday). I was told that I still wouldn’t get any of the deposit back, as it’s kept as ‘security ‘. I was wondering what chance I would have of challenging them in Small Claims Court? They’re a multinational hotel chain

Profile photo of John Ward
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There are so few reported court claim cases in the County Court that it is very difficult to predict which way it would go. Whether you would have a good claim will depend on the contract you entered into with the hotel. If the terms make it clear that the deposit is non-refundable then I expect the hotel would successfully defend itself – this policy seems to be quite normal in the travel and hospitality industry. Whether that would be deemed an unfair contract term is another possibility, but again speculation. Although the hotel has re-sold the booking, I presume it retains your deposit against the possibility that the second client defaults.

If you wish to claim the entire deposit of £1,500 the court fee would be £70 on-line or £80 on paper. If you scaled it back to £1,000 it would only save you £10 by either method. You can also claim interest on the amount at stake.There could be other costs, but I think it is worth a punt. You would be expected to have attempted to reach a settlement by using a civil mediation provider which would probably be quicker and cheaper than going to court. It would be good if you could report back on your experience with a claim because there are so few examples of this sort of problem being resolved.

For more information on the process and how to pursue a claim, look at –
https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview

Member

no chance

Member
ROBERT HOOD says:
19 January 2017

I purchased a brand new Renault clio 900 tce for £ 16500 in may of 2016 . AFTER 4 MONTHS THE FUEL CONSUMPTION RAISED FROM 10 PER WEEK TO 20 PER WEEK FOR THE SAME JOURNEYS . THE CAR IS ADVERTISED AT 50 MILES PER GALLON IN TOWN , WHICH I WHY I BOUGHT THE CAR . THE REALITY IS I ONLY GET 28 MILES PER GALLON IN TOWN . AFTER TWO REPAIRS AND NO CHANGE TO THE FUEL CONSUMPTION , RENAULT NOW SAY I AN LUCKY AS IN TOWN I SHOULD ONLY 24 MILES PER GALLON ? WHERE DO I STAND . I Complained WELL WITHIN 6 MONTHS BUT THEY DEMANDED 4 MONTHS FUEL DATA WHICH I HAVE PROVIDED . apparently I should count my self lucky I get 28 mpg

Member
Kevin says:
23 January 2017

Under the “Consumers Rights Act 2015” I dismissed a builder that I had employed to convert my garage, refit new kitchen and build an extension.

He did not use qualified tradespeople ( I should point out that this involved moving my gas boiler) did not follow architect or engineers drawings, although, I finished the project myself, building control have not yet approved.
Several elements of what he or his company had to be redone, he was due to finish all works by 31st October 2016 and although he plastered the inside of the extension there was no brickwork or roof on outside in sub zero temperatures when I dismissed him 21/11/2016.
He has now invoiced me with a collection of spurious reasons for £12.5k and threatening me with court action.
I have engaged solicitors and will defend my actions as robustly as is within my gift.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Please keep us posted with how you get on. It sounds like you have a counter claim for compensation.

Member
Molly says:
24 January 2017

I purchased a second hand car for over £5,000 as the head gasket went on my old one. I needed a reliable, safe vehicle to transport my grandchildren to school as we live in a rural area.
When I got it home I found it hard to start and over a period of a few days found that there appeared to be a problem with the ignition. It took me three or four goes to start regularly and would not start when I went shopping. I took it back to the dealer and they tried to fix it. They failed to do so and told me it would have to go back to the main dealer some distance away. I refused because I had not paid this sort of money for a defective vehicle and the worry of another fail to fix.
They were absolutely dreadful to deal with and insisted trading standards told them they had three goes to fix it and that the vehicles failure to start each day was just a “minor problem”. I stood my ground and they tried to force me into another car so they could have another go at repairing mine. I refused and they tried to pressurise me that the Consumer Rights Act was that they had three goes to fix the vehicle.
To add insult to injury when they finally conceded a refund, they asked to knock off £500. They said that dealerships in the area were sick of customers enjoying 30 days driving round in their cars! As though anyone would gamble handing over £5,000 of hard earned money just for a laugh for 30 days.
I was glad I stood my ground because I would never ever deal with such a company ever again. I had completely lost any confidence in them given their contempt for legislation and their customers.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Its a pity you cant -“name +shame ” it on Which.

Profile photo of John Ward
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There’s no restriction – so long as it is honest and truthful. Another contributor reported on a used car sale problem a few months back and gave the name and location of the dealer. I was thus able to look up their website and obtain additional information that might have helped the correspondent with her claim. Naming is not a problem – shaming is best withheld until all the facts are established conclusively.

The fear of exposure is one of the few things that keep some traders on the straight and narrow!

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Although we must remember we only hear one side of the story, usually from a party that considers themselves aggrieved. Which? must be careful to avoid people using Convos to make unfounded allegations that could cause damage to innocent parties. Best under those circumstances if Which? wants the allegation pursued to investigate itself, as it does in “Brief cases”. occasionally.

Profile photo of John Ward
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That is undoubtedly right, Malcolm, but I think we should also trust people to be honest and truthful in their reports and to comply with the community guidelines. Many of these Conversations are full of the names of errant companies from double glazing to solar panels to timeshares, so it can’t be a big problem for Which? and it would be impossible for Which? to take up every complaint. After all, that is the job of Trading Standards which is paid for by all council taxpayers whereas Which?s interventions come entirely at the cost of their subscribers [the ‘commercial’ ventures not contributing much if anything to the organisation’s disposable funds].

Profile photo of malcolm r
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If only we had proper Trading Standards, eh? There are those who are not honest and truthful who could use the Convo to make unfounded allegations. Naming is one thing, “naming and shaming” as proposed is quite different and needs to be done only on the basis of sound evidence. I would hope that in any “naming” comment Which? would invite the named party to contribute their side of the story. The danger is then getting the Convos used as a two party ding dong. It might be entertaining but I’m not sure if it has that role.

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I think the balance is about right at the moment, but I agree it would be unfortunate if the Conversations became used as a form of litigation or just acrimony. As to Trading Standards, I really think we should be pushing as many cases as possible in that direction now [via Citizens Advice] so that the pressure starts to be felt. People should also start to use their MP’s more to complain about failing public services, including those that have been privatised and have a regulator.

People’s problems and complaints are a good resource for Which? for identifying the key consumer concerns that need to be tackled, and I think it should continue to guide people on how to get redress through its fact sheets and web ‘tools’.

Which? Conversation, too, is an effective way of helping people with advice and support, and this has grown considerably over recent years. But every case we deal with is another one that is not being handled by the responsible authorities and is therefore not being logged and recorded as evidence of the scale of the problem. It amazes me how many nuisance and scam phone calls are being reported through this site but that means the pressure is being taken off Ofcom and the ICO to address the problem [although Which? might be logging them – I am not sure].

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Your perception is spot on John I firmly believe Which is a “leg ” of the government (indirect ) , in the sense that it puts forward views to see what public opinion is . I don’t mind that it gives me an intellectual pursuit and mental challenge but your right again its a type of “buffer ” for the public to get it out their system but I was pleased when a convo starter said that they will be taking action thats all thats needed-hope for the future and the thought —“somebody is going to do something ” there are a lot worse public “help ” websites than Which , and Which whether some believe it or not does get government attention. .

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Which? has to exercise extreme caution over allowing ‘shaming’. It’s Which? that becomes liable for any subsequent legal action mounted by an aggrieved party and not the person who decided to post the comment.

In theory as long as what is posted can be proved in a court of law then it’s okay to post it, but by their very nature some individuals might have both the resources and motivation to seek redress. This is one reason why I admire Which? in publishing an open forum. It takes a lot of monitoring.

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I agree, Ian. I am against shaming as a vindictive process, but if action by the responsible authorities eventually exposes companies as bad traders that has a corrective effect on the industry at large. Getting clear cases of unlawful practice into the proper enforcement regime where the media can legitimately report on them should be our aim I feel.

Unfortunately a lot of the bad commercial practices that cause disproportionate irritation and distress to consumers are below the radar of the authorities, end up getting confidentially compensated away, and have little corrective effect on the standard of trading [let alone on Trading Standards].

We need to encourage consumers to keep reporting their problems for evidential purposes but whether we should aim to remedy them within the Which? community is debatable.

Just as a matter of interest I should like to know the percentage of cases handled by Which? Legal that have a successful outcome. We read about a few in the “Brief Cases” articles but it would be good to see the bigger picture.

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Yes; that would be very interesting.

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Shani says:
25 January 2017

I brought a car which is now out of warranty. Last week the car just cut out at speed going along the motorway which could of potentially caused a fatal accident. The car was towed to a Nissan dealer as the car is a Nissan. I have now found out the car has had two recalls prior to me owning it. Both the recall issues could cause the engine to cut out when driving. Nissan said that the recall issues have been addressed so that can not be the problem. They have also indicated that the timing chain may be faulty and may even need a whole new engine although i dont belive this would of caused the car to cut out when driving as the timing chain has not snapped. Nissan are saying that the engine needs to be stripped at a cost of £600 to myself to indentify fault and any additional charges i will have to incur and maybe be new engine at a cost of over £2000. The car is a 61 plate and has only done 33 000 miles. The fact the car has had two recalls and stalled on motorway would imply that the engine is not of a satisfactory standard or fit for the purpose. Do i have any rights under the consumer act to take this further?

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Shani a timing chain stretches over time but there is a spring loaded tensioner to keep it from slipping . Even if the links stretched it would effect the performance to a slight degree it would certainly not cut the engine out unless it was causing overheating . Timing chains are tougher than belts which have to be changed at approx 40,000 miles I should know I had both and the tensioner jammed but it did not cause an engine blowup on my timing belt Ford while my previous Ford was chain driven but never needed changing even after 120,000 miles . 33,000 miles ?? no way should the chain be in need of changing unless there is a manufacturers design flaw in it and knowing a lot about old Reynolds chains for my old British motorbikes they lasted a long time and so did the sprockets unless badly maintained. You have either a fuel/ ignition/ or faulty engine management unit . Does it overheat ? When I checked on the web there are webpages full of this complaint relating to Nissan one guy even changed the engine -no result ! nearest it could be is the ECU or its connections but there is a large number of other components that can be faulty driving some guys “up the creek ” . Check up what the recalls involved and I will check further.

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The problem could even be as simple as a split rubber hose. Check all your hoses for a split or rodent nibble and make sure all the ends are securely in place.

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I travel on the hover craft from the Isle of Wight to Southsea every day, they are now on a 1 craft service due to the 2 new 5 million pound craft still not fit for purpose and having to use one of the old craft, they have removed my booked times as there is no hover craft available for those allotted times, I now have to queue in the hope of getting the next craft available, I am paying over £1,500 for a service that is not running to a proper schedule and not just me my partner also pays over £1,500 as well as trying to get 3 children over each morning, is the company breaking the consumer rights act 2015, if so what am entitled to in way of compensation

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This is an interesting query. Whether you have any rights to compensation probably depends on what it says in the terms and conditions. Given the vagaries of weather and sea conditions I should be surprised if the operators did not have an escape clause of no liability in the event of disruption of the service. Furthermore, the timetable will not be set in stone and can probably be altered at any time by the company. But that is not the same as not providing enough hovercraft to cover the advertised service.

If the company are saving money by operating a severely restricted service [as they will be in fuel, maintenance and labour costs alone] then there is a strong case for expecting the operator to make a partial reimbursement of the season ticket charges [if that is how you pay] or to reduce the fares generally. The company might even be receiving compensation or insurance payments for the non-availability of the new craft [and if not, why not?]. Perhaps a group of regular passengers should get together and put a claim in to the company. Whether this falls within the scope of the Consumer Rights Act will probably need a lawyer’s opinion because it will hinge on the contract between you and the operator.

What you need to avoid is getting into a situation where the operator gives you back your money but says you cannot use the service in future.

Member
Marion says:
29 January 2017

Exploding light bulbs
I am concerned about light bulbs which explode when turned on blasting shards of glass across the room. This has happened to me three times and it is a frightening and potentially dangerous experience.
When I look on line I find that this is not uncommon.
It strikes me that this amounts to the sale of faulty goods, but of course there is no come back because the evidence is in tiny fragments.
How can I guarantee the light bulbs I buy are safe to use?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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In my experience this is very rare with mainstream branded light bulbs. What type are you having a problem with – halogen (filament) and what make? Inferior brands may well have insufficient protection.

The old filament household lamps made by the major manufacturers had a “Ballotini” fuse in the stem – tiny glass beads surrounding a fuse wire to absorb the shock when the lamp might eventually blow. Otherwise an arc could develop across the broken filament and destroy the glass bulb. Cheap ones omitted this and left the light bulb at risk.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I don’t recall fuses in ‘golfball’ bulbs of any brand, presumably because of the lack of space. I’m not sure about ‘candle’ bulbs but I had one explode when staying with friends over Christmas.

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Ballotini fuses were short so could be accommodated in smaller lamps. This is an explanation of their role. http://www.lamptech.co.uk/Documents/IN%20Fusing.htm

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I mentioned a candle bulb (old incandescent type rather than halogen) that exploded. What happened was the glass bulb was propelled across the room and landed intact on the carpet several metres away, leaving the metal cap in the wall light. The circuit breaker tripped. I wondered about the cause of the explosion and maybe it was a Ballotini fuse that was too short.

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That is an unfortunate experience, Marion. Were all the lamps of the same make? I have never had this problem with lamps made by Philips, GEC, Osram or own-label lamps sold in Sainsbury, Tesco, Morrison, Homebase, B&Q. A lot of small shops sell cheap unknown makes but buying them is a risk.

If you have other lamps of the same type it might be worth replacing them now before they blow.

If a lamp has exploded take great care when extracting the remains from the lampholder – it is best to isolate the circuit at the consumer unit or at the very least switch the wall switch off and tape over the switch to prevent it being accidentally turned on.

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More likely no fuse and the filament broke, allowed an arc, and caused the propelling force. The cement that joined the cap to the bulb may have been substandard or failed. Ballotini fuses were used in smaller lamps because they could be made shorter than other types of fuse. Whether your lamp has such a fuse, or any fuse, could have caused the CB to trip.

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I cannot be sure but one thing I am certain about was that the bulb was marked with well-known brand name. Circuit breakers often trip because the are slower acting than the fuses in bulbs, though there is no doubt that the fuses are a worthwhile safety feature.

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Just a note of caution to add to John’s excellent advice. I would always switch the lighting circuit off at the consumer unit. It is not unknown for L and N to be wired incorrectly at a single pole light switch, and if that were the case you might still leave a circuit live if you just turned the switch to off. And if it is a ganged switch on, say the stairs, you’d have to be double sure the right one was off. Easier to be safe than sorry.

A pair if insulated narrow-nosed pliers inserted into the cap (if the bulb has disappeared or is broken) and held open while pushing and turning can help remove it (and protect your fingers).

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Another piece of advice is to ensure that the circuit breakers or fuses in the consumer unit are properly labelled. I have seen many examples where the labelling has been inadequate. Unless you are certain that you have the right circuit breaker the only safe option is to turn of the main switch.

Member
Marion says:
30 January 2017

Thank you for your comments.

My main concern is why these bulbs are on the shelves in any store whether it is Poundland or Waitrose.
I always understood we had protections against the manufacture or import of substandard goods. It cannot be the responsibility of the consumer to research safe and unsafe goods.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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What bulbs that you’ve bought have exploded, and what brand Marion?

Profile photo of wavechange
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I suggest you look at LED bulbs, Marion. Hopefully they are safer and they will certainly save electricity.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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As we have seen elsewhere, “cheap” LED bulbs can be electrically hazardous and interfere with radio reception. Lamps, if properly made, should not explode.

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It is important to distinguish between counterfeit products and cheaper branded ones. In a Conversation about LED bulbs we had a favourable post this morning about Lumilife lamps, which are sold online at competitive prices. The poster had used a frequency analyser to demonstrate that there was not a problem with radio interference. There are many cheaper products that are not electrically unsafe.

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Lois says:
31 January 2017

Having ordered a bespoke flooring and it being delivered not remotely resembling the samples I used to pick the finish, I refused the delivery. The company say they are looking in to it, but it seems there is little to look into. Regardless of it being bespoke, it surely has to resemble the sample? I understand a little variation is to be expected, even hoped for in a natural product, but the difference in what I ordered and what I received is the equivalent of black from white.

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The Consumer Rights act 20125 – explained – says:
“Key rights about the goods, under the Act
3. The goods must be of satisfactory quality;
4. The goods must be fit for a particular purpose the consumer has made known
5. The goods should match any description, sample or model by reference to which they were supplied”

So you are fully entitled to reject the goods for a refund or a satisfactory replacement. As you say, black and white. Hopefully you have a record / sample on which your choice was based.

Member
Abraham Ugochukwu Augustine says:
2 February 2017

Having placed an order on a pair of shoes through samuel Windsor on 10th of January.
It turned out that the courier services never turned up but lied about delievering the order with a fake signature, after reasonable waiting, I emailed the trader for where about of my order, I was shocked to learnt that my order has been delivered to a receptionist and signed but I don’t have a receptionist in my flat, well from 10th until today, 02/02/2017, I have been offered refund by the trader of which I refused after a week investigation was carried out by the trader, I never asked for refund, they never get back to me to engaged with me to seek a reasonable way to resolve it other than offering me a refund, I think, is a slap on my face, not after the wait and the courier services accepted liability.
What is my right as a consumer in this case, I felt my consumer’s rights has been violated and am really upset about it. Any suggestions or views are welcome from Augustine (london)

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John says:
6 February 2017

I interpret this SoGA advice page as meaning that one has very little hope of redress if one finds a ‘hidden manufacturing defect’ – something which, with the complex electronic products we have today, may not come to the consumer’s attention until well after a few weeks or even 6 months:- My Landrover Freelander 2 locked me out (twice) needing it to be broken into to by force and causing damage to it in the process. It happened more than 6 months after purchase. Landrover claim it is design intent to lock owners out in order to ensure that there is enough charge in the battery to start the car once you’ve got into it. But there is nothing in the Owner’s Manual or in the Service Manual about this, so it is impossible for owners to know, before or after purchase, that this booby trap is waiting for them. I pursued a section 75 claim through the Financial Ombudsm,an Service – the ombudsman was taken in by the manufacturer’s claim that it was design intent (in spite of there being nothing about it in the manufacturer’s literature) and decided thaat the car was fit for purpose. So, if you buy a complicated new product and there’s a hidden design defect that you could not possibly have known about – HARD LUCK is my experience.

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If this is a design feature with which the customer would not normally need to interact, I do not think it is necessary to include it in the handbook – desirable yes. Certainly you should be told how to enter the car if if the electric locking fails, for whatever reason. Apart from the commendable “design feature” that tries to reserve charge to start the engine your battery may be completely discharged through your own action – left a light on for example, or a defective or end-of-life battery. However if the design feature develops a fault due to defective manufacture or a defective component then consumer law for remedy would apply. Personally I believe there should be a manual lock on both front doors for the reasons you give.

A few Convos ago this same problem was raised by a disenchanted owner. I cannot remember when.

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John says:
6 February 2017

malcolmr – I think you have missed the point. The point is that products today are often overly complicated/sophisticated, meaning that there is a high probability of there being unexpected adverse consequence arising from the complicated design i.e. it is a ‘hidden manufacturing defect’. The old SoGA didn’t protect consumers against such defective designs, and neither does the new CRA2015. Thinking of buying a complex product – perhaps with microprocessor based control systems? – then buyer beware!

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If a product has a fault in the first 6 months it is assumed to be there at the beginning and you can claim redress. After that you need to show a fault existed which, admittedly, is not easy if yours is on its own. if, however, the fault is apparent in many other examples of the product then the case is stronger and redress is available. My point was however in defining what a “fault” is. Something meant to work in a particular way that does not would be a fault, in my view. Something that is a design feature but does not appeal to you is not a fault in my view, and I rather thought this was where your comment was coming from.

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I remember the Conversation too, Malcolm, and it alerted me to the fact that my car has only one manual lock, on the driver’s side. 🙁

Lead-acid car batteries naturally self-discharge and the rate increases with age. Modern cars use power even if parked. For example, the central locking system uses power to be able to detect the remote control, and the alarm uses power. There is no need to leave a light on and it is not difficult to imagine why a car might be left unused for a few months.

A reasonable person would, surely, conclude that a design fault exists, and it was obviously present at the time of manufacturer There is no doubt that both doors need to have key-operated locks so that the car can be opened even if one door is against a wall – for example in a garage.

For a car manufacturer to provide only a single manual lock is inexcusable, in my opinion. I thought the same about the older cars that had the wipers on the ‘wrong side’ of the windscreen because they had been designed for sale in Europe etc. rather than in the UK.

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I cannot find the Convo – i think it was a couple of years ago. I seem to remember a number of interesting points were made when someone had a problem with their Land Rover in a narrow garage kept the car. They also, from memory, kept up a dispute with their seller for 3 years while the car depreciated and wasn’t moved . I believe the outcome was not favourable.

I checked my old Espace at the time and found it also had a manual lock on one side only – the passenger side. My new German car has just one key entry but, sensibly, that is on the driver’s side. My even older Espace is much more sensible – the key entry is on both sides and as the central locking no longer works properly this is even more useful.

Like you I commented that two key locking doors would be sensible.